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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Israel Launches New Accusation Against Iran

Israel is accusing Iran of aiding Hezbollah. Iran is denying any link. Israel has declared it believes Iranian gaurds aided Hezbollah.

Now that Israel is at war with both Palestine and Labanon, respectfully, it may be difficult for other countries in the region not to regard it as a threat.

Arab League Reports Peace Process 'Dead'

CNN Reports:

"Certain powers have given Israel every capacity to do whatever it wishes," and that had hit hopes for peace, he told a news conference after a heated meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, Egypt.

Only the United Nations Security Council had the power to do anything about the crisis now, he said.

"The council of ministers invites the Security Council to meet to study the Arab-Israeli conflict in all its aspects because of the failure of all efforts related to the peace process," Reuters quoted Moussa as saying.

Foreign ministers from 18 Arab League nations held the emergency, closed-door meeting to address Israel's attacks on Lebanon and on the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Israel's campaign in Lebanon began when Hezbollah militants based there abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed three others during a raid into Israel Wednesday. Israel vowed to free the soldiers.

Gaza is Israel's second front in its operation to rout what it sees as terror groups. On Saturday, its forces pushed deeper into Gaza in retaliation for Hamas' kidnapping of an Israeli soldier last month.

On the Lebanese front, Israeli warplanes struck key ports, the capital Beirut and the border area near Syria to cut off all routes in and out of the nation. Hezbollah launched scores of rockets from Lebanon into Israel on Saturday, the fourth day of violence.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Saturday declared the attacks had had turned his country into a "disaster zone".

Siniora calling for an immediate cease-fire and international help to stop attacks from what he called Israel's "war machine," according to CNN's translation.

He said Israel was "punishing all Lebanese collectively, with their actions lacking any moral or legal legitimacy."

U.S. President George W. Bush, speaking from St. Petersburg, Russia, as he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, blamed Hezbollah for the violence and called on Syria to exert its influence to persuade the Shiite group to stop attacks on Israel.

Time Marches on Without US

The Bush administration is blaming terrorists for the current situation in the Israeli-Middle East escalation. By some accounts, our capability to focus on the crisis is diminished by the war in Iraq and nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran.

"Washington has turned to third parties, asking all countries with influence in Tehran and Damascus. Not only is the United States reluctant to criticize Israel as it faces terrorist attacks from Hezbollah, officials realize U.S. influence with Israel over its military operations is limited"

Or at least claiming that to be the case. For the United States to play a key role in diplomatic negotiations towards peace in the region would mean essential policy reversals on matters that so far it has been clinging to in order to justify its actions in Iraq and post 9-11. America is apt to ignore the imminent threat at the present time.

"With the conflict threatening to draw Iran and Syria into a regional war, Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska and a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, on Thursday joined a growing chorus of calls urging Bush to send a high-level envoy, such as Colin Powell or James Baker, to the region. Such a trusted adviser, Hagel argued, would have the respect of leaders there."

Unortunately, this, too, would demand that we "negotiate with terrorists".

"For now, all eyes are on a United Nations team sent by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, seen as the best chance to exert pressure on Iran and Syria to gain the release of the soldiers and, ultimately, get Israel to stand down. All parties, including the United States, have much to lose. Each country, at the very least, has citizenry that has found itself trapped without an escape from the region. It would be ideal if there were a cease fire at the present moment, to allow those who wish to leave to do so. Sadly, for those who call it home, and with anti-muslim sentiment high, they may be the ones who have no where to run. This includes women and children."

So, in the face of change, The United States has chosen to let the cards fall where they may, and prefers a behind-the-scenes approach. The consensus is in by international analysts: we can't be counted on: Read as follows:

"A peaceful end to the crisis could preserve what many hoped would be one of Bush's more successful foreign policy legacies -- a thriving democracy in Lebanon. But if it occurs without serious U.S. engagement, the United States may find its longstanding role as an "honest broker" in the Middle East diminished, along with its influence in the region -- and particularly perhaps inside Lebanon."

"Siniora has received no U.S. support for his calls for a cease-fire, and Lebanese diplomatic sources say they are seeing "mixed messages" from the Bush administration."

"On the one hand, they say, the United States is calling for Syria to play a positive role. But, on the other hand, the United States won't deal with Syria. Also, while Washington has shown verbal support for the Siniora government, officials are still not criticizing the attacks on Lebanon. The message from the Middle-East so far seems to be that the United States is inconsistent, and therefore worth ignoring."

"While the United States tries to discredit Hezbollah, the real force behind any change of heart is more likely to be instigated by Arab nations and influential leaders."

"Egypt may again emerge as the key interlocutor in the region, and the U.S. leadership role may lose some of its sheen."

Power is decided by those who act, decisively and with certainty. While the United States tries to hedge its bets in favor of itself, the world looks to a multi-lateral solution. Certainly, it is well known that Israel follows the United States' example. The right to defend oneself must be balanced with the reason and rational that also protects oneself. The United States, unfortunately, may unpredictably find itself on the wrong side for a change. This is hard news for a country that took a strong stance against the Nazis of WWII.

No matter where Israel and others have been, at this point we must always assess what is. The United States feels it cannot afford to break with the past. Especially when it has invested so much in a war already that may be its second greatest failure since Vietnam. It has come down to a choice of losing, with a win for temporary peace between the parties involved in this conflict, or hoping for a win that is already in question, with terrorist factions gaining strength, number and organization. The long shot, for Israeli captives to be returned, is past due at this time. There is no longer that peaceable option. If we had intervened successfully prior to this point, we may have had a chance in that department. As some would say, time marches on, regardless, sometimes without us.

Therefore, I respectfully will turn my attention to other analysts who are brain storming what I cannot, at the present moment, with hope that they will see the candle in the darkness for which I seek.

Trapped - Humanitarian Crisis deepens to include Internationals

The Canadian government is advising its citizens in Lebanon to stay indoors and limit their movements as much as possible, as Israeli forces hammer away at Hezbollah guerillas deep into Lebanese territory.

However, Canadian Chady Moustarah, stranded in Lebanon with four family members, said he wants the Canadian government to get its citizens out of the country.

"I don't know what they're thinking. Are they not seeing what we're seeing?" he told his sister Shadia in Edmonton by phone on Saturday.

The Canadian government has said it will evacuate its citizens if the situation deteriorates. There are about 10,000 Canadians registered as being in Lebanon, according to the Foreign Affairs Department in Ottawa.

Moustarah argued that his family could have escaped to Syria on Wednesday, but stayed in Lebanon because of the Department's advisory. Now, escape from the country seems impossible.

His frustration with the advisory increased Saturday, when Israeli planes dropped pamphlets telling people to evacuate the area within two hours before it was bombed.

Meanwhile, France has ordered a ferry to depart from Cyprus to pick up its nationals in Lebanon. The U.S. Embassy said it's considering the best way to transport Americans out of the area, and Britain is deciding how best to protect its citizens.

But evacuating foreign nationals from Lebanon could be extremely difficult.

Israeli forces are blocking Lebanon's ports, and have damaged the major highway between Beirut and Damascus, Syria, according to The Canadian Press.

Beirut's airport is also closed.

One stranded 20-year-old Canadian said the conflict has given him a revealing look into the region's political tensions.

"It's awful to have people who come in that are obviously so desperate to protect their children from these nightmarish blasts that are going on in Beirut," Carl Conradi, a University of Alberta political science student, told CP by phone.

"But by the same token, I've had some really unbelievable conversations with people that have really opened up my eyes as to how challenging it is to maintain security in the Middle East."

Conradi has been in Beirut since July 8. He described the city as now looking like a "ghost town."

His plan to escape to Syria on Saturday via a northern mountain pass was cut short when he heard the area was bombed.

He said people wanted to escape the violence are becoming desperate, and that some residents thought the conflict wouldn't escalate.

"It was initially a matter of everyone being patient," he said. "They were under the impression that everything would be over in a few days."

Bob Freedman, of the Canadian Jewish Congress, is praying for an end to the conflict. But he said that Israel has a right to defend itself against Hezbollah.

He said Lebanon needs to control Hezbollah's militia.

"Clearly no country should withstand, or should allow, any group to act independently," said Freedman. "In this case, (Hezbollah) acted recklessly, and the Lebanese government, and unfortunately the Lebanese people, is paying the price."

Israel is Justified, but that Won't stop America from Evacuating

Despite rhetoric, the state department is working on evacuating Americans from the Middle East where conflict may be a threat. Pentagon and U.S. State Department officials are working on contingency plans to get about 25,000 people out of Lebanon to escape Israel's military campaign.

Meanwhile, Europe is taking similar actions, lining up ferries, buses and airplanes to evacuate thousands of their citizens.

The message for anyone watching: GET OUT NOW!!

My thoughts are with you all, no matter what side you find yourself on in this conflict. May you stay safe, and make it through this alive.

The Market Bends with Uncertainty

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Middle East conflict muscled its way onto the Group of Eight agenda on Saturday, setting the United States, a strong backer of Israel, against those who say the Jewish state has been too violent.


Residents of Beirut are resigning themselves to a protracted conflict as the Israeli offensive intensifies. Bombardment of the city and the airport as well as a coastal blockade have severely restricted the flow of supplies into the Lebanese capital.


Until even a week ago the conventional wisdom was that there is not going to be another major war in the Middle East involving Israel. Now even the most optimistic observers are no longer sure.


World oil prices hit a record 78 US dollars Friday amid concerns over the volatile situation in the Middle East, with futures at $80.


The escalating violence triggered another big dive by the U.S. stock market, where anxious investors eyed the possibility of higher energy prices cutting into consumer spending and corporate earnings, thereby slowing the economy. Sell-offs have hit 4 straight days now, with even the tech sector beginning to falter. Investors are doing there best to hang on, while witholding from reinvestments as they wait to see an indication of when the market will level off. Analysts expect that those who hang on will be rewarded in late summer/early fall, but international markets worldwide are feeling the uncertainty universally as erupting conficts threaten market stability.


Anxieties remain high over nuclear threat. Fear of nuclear eruption is at an all-time high.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Presidential Blunders

President Bush said Thursday that Israel has the right to defend itself, as it launched fresh attacks on Lebanon after the capture of Israeli soldiers.

He also said that Syria "needs to be held to account" for supporting and harboring Hezbollah.

"The soldiers need to be returned," the president said. "It's really sad where people are willing to take innocent life in order to stop that progress (for peace). As a matter of fact, it's pathetic."

Bush's comments came during a joint news conference with Merkel, as Israel intensified attacks in Lebanon.

In response to Wednesday's kidnappings, Israel bombed Beirut's airport and the southern part of the country in its heaviest air campaign against its neighbor in 24 years. Israel also imposed an air and naval blockade on Lebanon to cut off supply routes to militants.

The violence comes at a delicate time in the Middle East and for the United States and its European allies, which are trying to preserve a coalition to confront Iran over suspected nuclear ambitions.

Bush was pressed on whether Israel's military assaults, which have killed nearly three dozen civilians, could trigger a wider war.

US & Europe make the $Dough$

Stocks and currencies in the Middle East tumbled after Israel's air force battered Lebanon in the first incursion into the country since the army withdrew in May 2000. Government bonds in Europe and the US rose.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Regional Warfare begins to Materialize

BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 12 (UPI) -- Iran-backed Hezbollah said it will not give free information about the two Israeli soldiers it kidnapped Wednesday and warned Israel against attacking Lebanon.

Hezbollah's Politburo member Sheikh Hassan Ezzedine said in a telephone interview with United Press International "we will not offer free information about the conditions of the soldiers at all. They are in a safe place and the Zionist enemy will not be able to reach them."

(Middle Eastern countries are squaring off by their alignment with either Israel or Palestine, as a regional war begins to take actionable form. My prediction: the key to the onset will be a first move by Israel)

Children That Never Grow Up

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Sharply escalating its military campaign, Israel dropped a quarter-ton bomb on a Gaza home Wednesday in a failed attempt to assassinate top Hamas fugitives. Nine members of the same family were killed, including seven children. ...

( just need to stop everything...and take a rest from the cruelty and the sorrow that we inflict on one another. This is the perfect time for it.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

India - 7 Coordinated Explosions

More than 100 killed in Bombay train explosions
By Philippe Naughton and agencies

More than 100 Indian commuters were killed today when seven co-ordinated explosions tore through packed trains and stations in the Indian financial capital of Bombay in the evening rush hour.

“There are 104 dead,” a police official at the city’s central control room,
who gave his name as Bhavale, told the Reuters news agency by telephone.
The Press Trust of India said that the blasts occurred at packed railway stations in Matunga, Khar, Santacruz, Jogeshwari, Borivali and Bhayendar. The blasts came just hours after suspected Islamic militants killed eight people in grenade attacks in Kashmir.

Witnesses reported seeing body parts strewn about stations, and Indian television news channels broadcast footage of bystanders carrying victims to ambulances. In the background were twisted and torn train compartments, some of the injured frantically dialling on their mobile phones.

The force of the blasts ripped doors and windows off carriages, and luggage and debris were strewn about.

Pranay Prabhakar, the spokesman for the Western Railway, confirmed that seven blasts had taken place. He said all trains had been suspended in Bombay and appealed to the public to stay away from the city’s train stations.

The blasts appeared to have come in quick succession - a common tactic employed by Kashmiri militants that have repeatedly targeted India’s cities.

The first explosion hit the train at a railway station in the northwestern suburb of Khar, one police source said. India’s CNN-IBN television news, which had a reporter travelling on the train, said the blast took place in a first-class car as the train was moving, ripping through the compartment and killing more than a dozen people.
Railway officials said that all the blasts had hit first-class cars.

"We have a fair number of casualties, 20 dead bodies have reached the KM Hospital, there are more casualties. The city is on high alert," A.N. Roy, the Bombay police commissioner said.

The Bombay blasts came just hours after eight people, mostly Indian tourists, were killed in grenade attacks in Srinagar, the most concerted targeting of civilians in months. Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since shortly after the two countries gained independence from Britain in 1947, but both claim it in full.

Bombay, a metropolis of about 17 million, has been hit by a series of bomb blasts in the past decade. More than 250 people died in a string of bomb explosions in Bombay in 1993 for which authorities blamed the city’s underworld criminal gangs.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Syria Marches For Palestine

Thousands of demonstrators marched in the Syrian capital Monday in a government-sanctioned protest to show solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which Israel attacked in the aftermath of last month's capture of an Israeli soldier.

The crowds jammed Yousef al-Azma Square in central Damascus and several streets leading into it, waving Syrian flags and holding pictures of weeping Palestinian children.

The protest came a few hours before top Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, whom Israel and the U.S. have accused of masterminding the soldier's June 25 capture, was expected to speak about the latest developments in his first news conference since the incident.

Protester Azzam Sulaiman, a 20-year-old Syrian student, said the Palestinians should step up action against Israel.

''I urge Hamas and the Palestinian factions to capture more soldiers and not to release the captive until our prisoners are out,'' he said.

Some protesters pledged their lives for the Palestinian cause.

''The students of Syria are ready to sacrifice themselves for you Palestine,'' read one banner.

Others lashed out at the Jewish state. ''Israel is guilty of killing more than a thousand Palestinian children,'' and ''Israel is the mother of terrorism in the world.'' Meanwhile, some Syrians used the occasion to express loyalty to their president. ''With our blood and souls we redeem you, Bashar,'' protesters shouted.

''We pledge to continue to provide all manner of support for your resistance and steadfastness in the face of the killing and destruction,'' a speaker told the throngs, referring to the Palestinians.

''We also call on our brothers in Arab countries to come to the aid of the Palestinian people and not to be content with expressions of concern and condemnation,'' the speaker added.

Syria is a staunch supporter of the Palestinians and is home to the political leadership of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic group that leads the Palestinian government and which has links to militants who seized Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25.

Israeli warplanes have buzzed the residence of Assad to pressure the Syrian leader to intercede with Hamas to gain the release of the soldier.

Syria has been a strong supporter of the Palestinians and is home to the leaders of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic group which is linked to militants who seized the soldier.

More than 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its offensive June 28 in response to Shalit's capture.

Israeli warplanes have also buzzed the residence of Assad to pressure the Syrian leader to intercede with Hamas to gain the release of the soldier.